Four Lives Lost: Inside America’s Homicide Surge

A hot dog vendor walking out of a downtown ballpark, where gunfire pierced the night after the home team won a game. A woman whose quarrel with a trusted friend took a heartbreaking turn. A young man caught up in drugs passing through a shabby motel. A new mother shot by a stranger in a random act of extreme violence.

Each one of these scenes was fatal, and each became a tragic data point in a surge in homicides that has swept across the country, touching not only the largest cities in America but suburbs, small towns and even remote rural places that rarely see a murder.

On a national scale, the murder rate is still far below its height in the 1990s, and in some places the spike seen in 2020, when murders rose by almost 30 percent, has already begun to slow. Homicides also constitute a tiny percent of overall major crime, which last year continued to drop as theft and burglaries fell.

But in many large cities — including Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia — the number of homicides this year is on track to surpass last year, leaving the public unnerved and injecting the politics of crime into local elections around the country, as various state and mayoral candidates promise they can restore a greater sense of safety. And although some places, including New York City and Dallas, have seen slight improvement this year, many others have not. Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Nashville and Los Angeles have all seen year-to-date increases.

This wave has also touched smaller cities and rural towns where police departments don’t have homicide units and outside detectives are often needed to investigate. Haskell, Okla., Yeehaw Junction, Fla., and Miner, Mo., were among rural communities that saw deadly shootings this summer.

To better understand the surge, The New York Times focused on a single month of homicides in the United States, examining incidents throughout August, typically a month when gun violence is high. The Times analyzed data from the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings using local news accounts and official reports, and reported on the ground in places struggling with a wave of killings.

In dozens of interviews, criminologists, city and state officials and people close to murder victims could not name a single, direct cause of the spike in homicides, and said that it could take years of data collection before the phenomenon is fully understood.

Still, this last year and a half, there was one persistent, unmistakable factor: The continued destabilizing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Even if it is impossible to definitively establish a link between the pandemic and the increase in homicides, its disruption to American lives, routines, schools, workplaces and relationships has been undeniable.

“I think the pandemic is just revealing a greater set of issues,” Paul Pazen, the police chief in Denver, said. “There’s not a simple answer to any of this.”

We found increased drug use and gun buying, downtowns with a sense of pandemic emptiness, opening an opportunity for violence, and, most frequently, escalating personal disputes that turned fatal. Widespread unemployment and financial struggle brought about by the pandemic contributed to a sense of desperation.

But the study of crime data is filled with uncertainty; decades after the 1990s murder spike, experts are still debating its causes and the steady fall that followed for years.

  1. Who Runs The World Girls! Svg

2. Whoever Voted Biden Owes Me Gas Money Svg

3. Will You Shut Up Man Svg

4. Biden Harris Svg

5. Donald Trump Svg

6. Women Belong In All Places Where Decisions Are Being Made Svg

7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Svg

8. Yes I Am A Trump Girl Get Over It Svg Files

9. Yo Semites Go Vote Svg

10. Young Gifted And Black Svg

11. Your First Mistake Was Thinking I Was One Of The Sheep Smoking Veteran Version Png

12. Your First Mistake Was Thinking I Was One Of The Sheep Svg

A hot dog vendor walking out of a downtown ballpark, where gunfire pierced the night after the home team won a game. A woman whose quarrel with a trusted friend took a heartbreaking turn. A young man caught up in drugs passing through a shabby motel. A new mother shot by a stranger in a…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *